How Much Does it Cost to go to New Zealand?

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Known for its stunning landscapes which include beaches, mountains, and of course Hobbiton, New Zealand is a dream destination for many travellers. Made up of two main islands, this Oceanic country has plenty to offer to travellers. But, just how much does it cost to go to New Zealand? Read on to find out.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest a 2-week itinerary (14 days and 14 nights). I’m also going to base transportation costs on public transit rather than renting a car just because it’s a bit trickier to manage. Another popular option is renting a camper van which can definitely help save money, but, since it’s also a pretty niche travel style so I will not be discussing that in this article either. 

Please note that this budget has been created for one person so make sure to double costs (except for accommodations) if you are travelling with someone.

With that in mind, here’s my estimate for how much it costs to go to New Zealand.

Cost to go to New Zealand for two weeks

 Estimated cost
Airfare$1,000
Accommodations$1,680
Local transportation$200
Attractions$490
Food and drink$500
Random spending$200
Total$4,070

Please note that the above estimate is in American dollars, so use XE.com to find the average costs in your home currency.

If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $1,500 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees and it comes with airport lounge access.   

Flights

If you are coming from North America, especially the east coast, then flights are going to be one of your biggest expenses. Sure, you can occasionally get a deal but you can still expect to pay about $1000, or more, for a return flight.

Be aware that flying to New Zealand takes a long time, so if you can spare the time, it might also be worth looking into breaking up the flight into two stages to a) give yourself a break and b) you may be able to find a better deal. For example, it might be cheaper to fly from Toronto to LA, then LA to Auckland rather than doing it all in one go. It’s worth playing around to check prices.

Accommodations

New Zealand has it all when it comes to accommodation options; campsites, hostels, budget hotels, and luxury hotels. Of course, you need to keep in mind that New Zealand, in general, is expensive so the cheaper/budget-friendly options here will probably be more than you are used to paying in other travel destinations around the world.

I’ve based an estimate on the average costs of mid-range hotels which comes out to $120/ night. Of course, you can increase or decrease this estimate depending on the type of accommodation you choose to stay in. Also, keep in mind that accommodation in the city will normally be more than in smaller towns or the countryside.

My preferred booking site is booking.com since it lists hotels, apartments, B&B’s, vacation homes and inns. In addition, they price match and you’re not required to pay until after your stay for almost all accommodations. After five bookings, you become a member of their Genius program which gets you an extra 10% off on selected properties. If you haven’t tried booking.com, use my affiliate link now to get $25 CAD off your first stay (this applies after you complete your stay).

Find hotels in the North Island here

Find hotels in the South Island here

If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $200 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.

Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you up to 105,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $1,000. There’s also the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year.

Transportation

There are two main ways to get around New Zealand. The first is to drive, either a typical vehicle or a camper van. The second is to use public transit. As I mentioned in this article, I’m going to focus this budget on using public transit because it requires a bit more strategizing and planning to ensure you get the most from your money.

New Zealand does offer some scenic train rides though if you are budget conscious and looking for the best way to get around, you’ll want to stick to buses.

The number 1 tip for the bus routes in New Zealand? BOOK IN ADVANCE. You can easily get bus tickets for a couple of dollars if you plan ahead versus as much as $50 if you leave it until the last minute.

If you are wondering about the typical backpacker type buses such as Kiwi Experience, you can use those as well but they do tend to be a much more expensive option than doing it on your own.

Another option to look into for busing in New Zealand is the InterCity Flexi pass. You buy a pass based on the number of hours you think you will be travelling around the country (15 hours, 30 hours, or 60 hours) and are good for bus routes, the ferry between the North and South Islands, and day trips. It’s valid for a year, so there’s no rushed time limit of when you have to use it and while you still are required to do a bit of planning, you don’t have to plan quite as far in advance as you would need to in order to get the cheapest prices with the regular bus tickets. At about $160 for the 30-hour bus ticket, you can’t go wrong.

Food and Drink

If you are looking for the cheapest options when it comes to food and drink in New Zealand, grocery stores will be your best friend. If that’s not an option, you can expect to pay the following prices for regular/basic meals:

  • Breakfast: $5
  • Lunch: $10
  • Dinner: $20

Which equals about $35 per day. Keep in mind, the cost of food in, say Auckland, will be much more than the cost of a meal in a smaller town. You won’t be eating at restaurants every meal, but consider this a rough estimate which will allow you splurge now and then.

Alcohol is quite expensive too, with cocktails costing around $15 and beers around $8 (depending on where you are drinking). So if you do think you’ll be drinking a lot of alcohol on your trip, you’ll want to add more to this part of your budget.

Attractions

Budgeting for attractions in New Zealand can be pretty tricky. On one hand, a huge part of the draw of this country is the stunning scenery and nature is free. On the other hand, New Zealand is also home to some pretty incredible adventure activities from scuba diving to white water rafting, snowboarding and skiing, and of course bungee jumping.

The types of activities you are interested in will definitely impact this aspect of your budget and, depending on how adventurous you are, this could potentially be the biggest part of your budget.

Some example costs are:

  • Hobbiton Tour: $56
  • Milford Sound Cruise: $60
  • Nevis Bungee: $180

Of course, there are much more expensive attractions and things to do as well ranging from wine tours to helicopter tours. As you can imagine, this part of your budget can add up really quickly, especially if you want to see or do something new every day.

Again, this is very individualized but I think budgeting about $500 for attractions is a safe bet for most travellers. Especially if you get the FlexiPass which also allows for day trips.

Random Spending

You should always have a little extra cash on hand available for random spending. Maybe it’s for an extra activity, perhaps a fun night out, or maybe just for something simple like unexpected bus fares or souvenirs. Since New Zealand does have a bit of a heftier price tag than other countries, I suggest having an extra $200 set aside for random spending.

Final thoughts

So how much does it cost to go to New Zealand? For a two week itinerary, you can expect to pay about $4,070 per person. This is a pretty significant amount of money to spend on a vacation. Of course, if you are more into hiking than wine tours and scenic boat rides and are willing to stay in hostels and campsites over hotels, you’ll definitely be able to lower this estimate. That being said, chances are you are travelling a long way to get to New Zealand so don’t be too stingy to the point where you feel like you are missing out on the experience!

Need more inspiration? Check out my guides on Japan, Greece, Bali, Croatia and Southeast Asia.

How Much Does it Cost to go to New Zealand?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

2 Comments

  1. David Burnett on December 31, 2020 at 11:18 AM

    Yes, New Zealand is a fantastic vacation spot, especially if you like active and outdoor, natural environment experiences. Mine was a 6 week trip in Feb. & March of this year (2020) – a retirement present to myself and my wife. Using your estimate Barry, the 6 week trip would have cost me $15,873 cdn per person ($4070 US X 1.3 – cdn conversion) = $5291/2 weeks x 3 (2week cost x3 = 6 week cost). We did it for $13,390 pp for the 6 week tour. And we did absolutely everything we wanted including car rental for 2.5 weeks touring North Island, Campervan rental for 2 weeks on South Island, glacier heli-hiking, para-sailing, jet boating, bungee jumping, winery tours, a 3-day kayak tour, lots of hiking and more. The only thing we didn’t/couldn’t do was the White Island volcano, as it was closed due to eruption and tourist deaths. Expedia.ca was very prompt with the refund request for that one. Kudos also to Air Canada, as they got us out of NZ as per schedule just as the country was going into stage 4 lock-down. We knew before boarding in Auckland that our Vancouver to Toronto leg was cancelled, but much to our relief on landing in YVR, they had already booked us onto another flight leaving only 30 minutes later! I highly recommend NZ for a fantastic travel experience, as well as the companies mentioned.

    • Barry Choi on December 31, 2020 at 1:53 PM

      Hey David,

      Thanks for sharing. I’m happy to hear that you did New Zealand right. 6 weeks there must have been a crazy adventure. Happy retirement!

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